NBCUniversal TV and Streaming Unit Eyes Restructuring for Digital Age

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NBCUniversal's Mark Lazarus

Mark Lazarus is "finalizing a new structure that will demonstrate the unique way we intend to manage this business going forward" and that will be unveiled "soon," says NBCU CEO Jeff Shell.

Comcast-owned NBCUniversal's recently launched TV and Streaming unit, which combined those businesses under Mark Lazarus, is working on a restructuring set to be unveiled soon, NBCU CEO Jeff Shell said Thursday.

Speaking on Comcast’s second-quarter earnings conference call, he said the group that includes streaming service Peacock, TV networks, stations and NBC Sports, was created to "more rapidly shift our resources and investment from linear to streaming."

Lazarus is "finalizing a new structure that will demonstrate the unique way we intend to manage this business going forward" and that will be unveiled "soon."

Shell on the call mentioned the novel coronavirus pandemic as a key engine behind the coming changes, saying that "crises tend to accelerate and exacerbate trends that are already happening." That is true in the TV business where "viewership is rapidly shifting from linear to non-linear," he explained. 

Industry sources have been expecting potential layoffs in connection with that. Comcast's second-quarter earnings report on Thursday morning mentioned that the latest financials included "costs incurred ... in response to COVID-19, including severance and restructuring charges related to our NBCUniversal segments." But it didn't provide additional details. 

Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts on Thursday's call also addressed the TV industry shift to streaming, saying: "We want to remain relevant to customers" and "lean into streaming."